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Voice of the Voter - This Week's Stories

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California’s Proposition 8 – Legislating Exclusion

In the name of “traditional family values” and spearheaded by conservative Christian groups a measure has been put on the California ballot to, for the first time in California history, add discrimination to the state constitution. This measure has no other purpose than to limit the rights of human beings to legally acknowledge their love for one another and make a binding commitment to one another. They have euphemistically called this a “defense of marriage” and claimed that if not passed the schools of California will force a homosexual ideology on children in schools regardless of parental view. They also claim that religious institutions could be sued if they refuse to perform gay marriages. This is all based on their examination of laws in Massachusetts that don’t apply under California law.

Reality is a far different thing than is being portrayed by the people trying to scare Californians into legislating their version of a family as the only acceptable family. Under California law any parent can opt out of any portion of the school’s curriculum for their children that they deem to be in conflict with their personal beliefs such as sex education and social issues. The inclusion of homosexuals in the pool of legal marriage applicants will have no impact on that law. Under California law the freedom of religion is well established and much like the federal constitution there are provisions in the California constitution that prohibit any law from abridging the free exercise of religion or to promote one religious belief over another. In other words no judge can make you perform ceremonies in your church that violate the tenets of your religion and no law can be passed that makes religious dogma into law.

At the core of our system there is a basic tenet of equality under the law for all. Much equal treatment has only come after hard fought battles and sacrifice by those willing to stand up to oppressive ideologues who would put their personal biases before the good of the body politic. It does damage to all freedoms when we impinge on freedoms in the name of security or faith or other intangible and subjective ideas without quantifiable support behind them. One person’s piety is another’s blasphemy and that is why our founding fathers took special care to keep religion out of the highest of our laws. While God was recognized as being important, justice was seen as being more important than belief because religious belief is so subjective and vulnerable to the influences of differing interpretations of the meaning behind words written so long ago as to be outside of the memory of all living people on Earth. Not a person among us can claim to have true first hand knowledge of the thoughts of any figure in the Bible with any certainty other than the certainty of faith. Faith can be important but it cannot be proven which leaves the door open to doubt and when doubt is inherent to the nature of a position being espoused it is a poor starting place for legislation.

We can try to share our morality with those around us and we can even witness for the world our beliefs but trying to write exclusionary language into a state constitution based solely on religious belief crosses a line that should not be crossed. Whatever the belief of the people behind Proposition 8 the idea of legislation of this kind should be abhorrent to all supporters of democracy and the principles of equal treatment under the law. The same arguments about homosexuality being “against God” are the ones made a mere 50 years ago about interracial marriage. If those who made these same arguments fifty years ago had their way, my wife would not be my wife and my wonderful loving son would not be alive today. These arguments are fine for the pulpit but have no place in the halls of government. As the state should stay out of affairs of the church, the church should stay out of affairs of the state. If you live in California, I urge you to say no to bigotry and hatred and say no to Proposition 8. Never should we write discrimination into a state constitution. It flies in the face of what democracy and freedom are supposed to represent.
Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this article. | Click icon to Digg this article

Entitlement and Elections

With the election less than two weeks away it seems like the election will be decided by which group feels more strongly that they are entitled to their views being represented in Washigton as determined by the rhetoric of the candidate they are supporting. We as a nation overall have lost sight of the greater good and are almost exclusively driven by our own personal situations, needs and desires. While there are some who are exceptions to this for the most part we are a self-serving and self-centered nation.

For the rich who feel entitled to the right to get richer at others expense there are the conservative candidates who promise lower taxes and promote trickle down economic theory unfettered by regulation to protect consumers from unscrupulous businessmen. They sing the praises of the free market and swear that if it were just allowed to work people would be better off. It would be ok because the natural forces of business would always create competition and people would be fine in the long run. What they fail to mention is that when businesses combine to form conglomerates and drive the competition out of business without regard for things like anti-trust laws they are able to demand any price for their goods or services and if the goods or services are necessary for survival the consumer is forced to pay or go without. If the market here dries up they can simply go elsewhere and sell to people who can afford their prices or offer a substandard product to the people who can’t afford the good stuff so they can work the free market for every dime they can get out of it. Without regulation they make money and the consumer is at their mercy.

For the not so wealthy who feel entitled to the level playing field there are the liberal candidates who promise better times through passing stronger laws to keep the big bad businessmen at bay. What they fail to mention is the fact that when regulation is allowed to become too pervasive it does drive business out of an area. This is not a bogus assertion of conservatives. It is in fact true and correct. Businesses will always tend toward the option that allows for the most profit with the least risk which makes markets that are overregulated a minefield of potential losses that can indeed put them out of business if they are not careful. While these regulations may on the surface seem good they can have a chilling effect on the economy and eventually hurt the average Joes who need their job to keep from losing everything.

What seems lacking in the world of high profile politics are candidates who see the value of moderate regulation and some level of free market economic policy. Also lacking are voters who can objectively look at issues facing the nation and see that absolutes are not the answer to complex problems. People in their self-centered quest for quick fixes are too lazy to take the time to really explore the issues from both ideological sides and see that neither extreme is completely right. When a politician is objective and tries to see both sides of an argument to more holistically address major issues they are called “flip-floppers” and “fence-riders” and dismissed as pandering to the crowds. God forbid that we have a thoughtful leader who looks at all angles and doesn’t try to pigeonhole solutions into convenient categories that they don’t actually fit into. The world just might come crashing down if someone learns from a mistake and changes their view on an issue. They must be ideologically weak and unsure of the absolute correctness of their views in the face of something so trivial as facts. It just wouldn’t fit with our self-absorbed ideological absolutism to have candidates who see the valid points in both sides of an argument. That just might bring the world to a crashing halt because something we think might be wrong or short sighted.

So what we end up with is polarized divisions and political gridlock. In our quest to fulfill our desire to get those things we feel entitled to we lose sight of the need for compromise with those who disagree with us in order to have a well functioning democracy. Demagoguery has replaced debate and we all lose in the process. Which side wins the election battle doesn’t matter if we fail to work together overall. As long as we allow ourselves to be driven by our narrow views and personal desires we are doing our nation a disservice and limiting the amount of success we can have as a nation.

There was a time when more people than not understood that we as human beings are entitled to nothing more than to die at the conclusion of our lives. Pretty much everything else you have to work for on some level to have any right to it. Nobody deserves a good life without earning it and nobody deserves a life of pain unless it is a direct result of their actions to intentionally do harm to others. The sooner we get over our senses of entitlement and divine destiny the further along we will be in our ability to work for the good of the nation.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this article. | Click icon to Digg this article



Get Involved

Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?

It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.

We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to: stories@reform-america.net



Have You Been Downsized Due to Outsourcing?

For several years now we have listened to some within the business community tell us that America can't compete on a global scale unless they send our jobs overseas where they can be done cheaper. The question becomes, if we don't have good paying jobs here, how can we sustain our own economy? We want to hear from you. Have you lost your job? Have you been forced into a lower wage job due to outsourcing? Has outsourcing been a success for you? Did you end up in a better job?

Tell us your story so we can make sure the politicians see how outsourcing really impacts the workers who are backbone of America. Send your story to stories@reform-america.net

 

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